Saturday, May 23, 2015

THE NIGHT I FOILED AN ATTACKER

By Mary Kennedy                            
 
Picture this. It's late at night in a major metropolitan hospital at the close of visiting hours. I've been to visit a sick friend on the ninth floor and the wing is nearly empty--the hospital is undergoing renovations. As I walk down the long hallway to the elevator, I suddenly feel like a heroine in a Kevin Williamson movie.
The hallway is dark, deserted, and the only sound is my footsteps on the linoleum floor. Most of the rooms are empty and hospital equipment is stacked in the hall, covered with plastic sheets. I am starting to feel creeped out, but blow off the feeling, telling myself I'm just tired and worried about my friend.
                                                       
 
And yet--the feeling won't go away. A little finger of dread curls in my stomach and goose bumps sprout on my bare arms. What in the world is wrong with me? I wonder. I take a deep breath and keep on walking. I reach the elevator, push the button and the doors open immediately.
 
As soon as I step inside, a man darts out of the shadows, rushes in next to me, presses the "close door" button and leers at me, standing way too close.  He reaches out and lays a hand on my arm. Where did he come from? And worse, what does he want?
 
I'm teetering on full blown panic, but I spin around with my back to the door, reach over and hit the "open door" button. Now I'm facing him and I hurl a string of expletives at him while I back out of the elevator. He seems shocked as if he didn't expect any resistance. Maybe he thought I was a "girlie-girl." Hey, I'm from New York, I don't do "girlie-girl."
                                                      
 
I grab a passing security guard and he quickly radios down to the guard desk in the lobby. It turns out this creepoid has been lurking in the hospital for days, preying on women. They've been unable to catch him--until now.
 
My instincts were right on target, but I tried to ignore them. Luckily, my story had a happy ending anyway. There's a wonderful book, The Gift of Fear, by Gavin De Becker, that explains why we should *always* trust our instincts. I recommend it to my clients, and I think you might enjoy it.                  
                                                            
 
Stay safe, everyone, and always, always trust your gut!
 
Mary Kennedy


28 comments:

Lynn Stadel-Paterson said...

WOW that sounds like a scene right out of a mystery novel, I am so glad you came out on top of that situation.

Shirley said...

What a scary situation! I'm a firm believer in following one's instincts. Good thing you followed yours. I've read that book but you've inspired me to read it again.

mary kennedy said...

Hi Lynn, yes, it was definitely goose bumps time! Thanks for stopping by.

mary kennedy said...

It's definitely worth a second read, Shirley, thanks so much for stopping by!

Linda Reilly said...

Excellent post, Mary. Women are often so afraid of hurting someone's feelings that they ignore the danger signs until it's too late. We can all learn from this.

Gram said...

Fist pump and woohoo! More of us should be not afraid to "embarrass" ourselves.

mary kennedy said...

Hi Linda, that is so true! We hesitate to make waves in case we're wrong. I knew something was wrong the whole time I was walking down that long hallway and pushed my feelings aside.

mary kennedy said...

Hi Gram, thanks for stopping by! If I'd been smarter I never would have stepped in that elevator.

Leann Sweeney said...

Pretty scary, Mary. I have that book, too. Trust yourself is great advice!

Anonymous said...

I've heard Gavin De Becker on the news and talk shows but don't have the book. I will now! Sometimes your gut instinct is wrong, but it's still better to be embarrassed than hurt or worse. Cordella

Annette N said...

Holy Cow Mary, I have another new heroine. What you did was smart and effective and I am so proud of you. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Take care of you.

Lynda Turpin said...

Wow - that's scary stuff. I used to work in a not-so-safe part of town. I often worked late and many times I was the only one in the building. While it was light, I would always move my car up so it was close to the exit door, and I would always call someone on my cell phone before I left the building. They couldn't stop it if something happened, but at least someone would know if there was a problem and could call for help.

One night I was leaving late and, as usual, I looked through the door to make sure no one was standing outside. I was talking to my niece when I stepped outside and a creepy looking guy strolled out from the bushes beside the building and started toward me. I told my niece what was happening as I hit the remote on my car and ran for it. I got in before he got to me but he stood outside my car watching me. I started my car and took off. Fortunately, he got out of my way, but I was prepared to push him out of the way if he didn't.

On a bit of a lighter note, I was so freaked out that I kept talking to my niece as I headed out. A couple of miles away, I look in my mirror and see a CHP with lights on behind me and groaned. I was talking on the phone while driving - which is illegal. I pulled over and told my niece I would call when I got home. The officer was very nice and could tell I was freaked out when I told him what happened, He gave me a warning about the phone and said he would let the officers who work the area by my office to keep an eye out.

That area was always a bad place. I was mugged while walking at lunch one day (with a lot of people standing around), a crazy guy slipped into the building behind me once and started yelling about aliens having sex (he left before police got there) and another guy followed another lady in and really scared her. He left but someone followed him to a MacD's next door. We later found he was a registered sex offender living at a group home nearby. Once I walked into the ladies room in the lobby and found a guy sleeping on the floor and another time a woman was washing her hair in the sink (they later put locks on the restrooms). There were always a lot of homeless people stopping me and asking for money (I did occasionally buy some of them food, but no money) . I was happy to retire and leave that area behind.

Lisa Ks Book Reviews said...

Mary! How frightening! I'm so happy you weren't hurt. This is a scary, dangerous world, and that's sad, because it's also so beautiful and should be explored and enjoyed. But the creepy creepers out there make that so hard for many people.

mary kennedy said...

Hi Annette, I think it was just a reflex action.. (but I should never have gotten myself into this situation. I should have trusted those goose bumps I had while walking down the long, dark hallway.) Thanks for stopping by....

mary kennedy said...

Hi Lisa, he was definitely a "creepy creeper." I think you just invented a new term--love it!!

mary kennedy said...

OMG, that does sound scary, Linda. Parking garages are also a dangerous spot. I forgot to mention that. One of my cop friends told me to always carry a "fake" set of car keys. If someone rushes up to you while you're unlocking your car (this happened to a friend of mine--she was all alone in a dark parking garage), he suggested throwing the "fake" keys as far as you can. And then while the attacker scrabbles for them, jump in your car and take off. Good advice, I've actually started carrying a fake set of keys.

mary kennedy said...

Hi Leann, it's such a great book, I buy extra copies and hand them out to my clients.

Kay Bennett said...

So glad it turned out well and you were a heroine as well. I try to listen to my gut/instincts but with the way things are these days I am worried I will end up being scared of my own shadow. Better safe than sorry though. Thanks for sharing

mary kennedy said...

Hi Kay, it never hurts to be reminded to "trust your gut." I think if I hadn't been distracted, worried over my friend that night, I would have handled the situation differently (and never gotten on that elevator.)

Stephanie Jones said...

An important reminder! Gut instinct often is more gut fact; we need to acknowledge those sometimes scary feelings. Years ago, I worked at an inner-city hospital. I used to hate asking security guards to walk me to my car in the parking garage, when I worked late, but I had promised my husband, and I now know I avoided serious problems due to the hubs' request. I think as women we generally hesitate to ask for help in those types of situations. You just gave many a great wake-up call. So glad it worked out well for you, and you assisted in getting rid of that menace!

Laurie Fancy said...

I have always trusted that gut feeling or "inner voice". It's never let me down. With regards to first impressions (kind of the same thing), it's only fooled me once. He turned out to be my husband's very BFF and recipient of my hubby's kidney. Thought he was a real doofus when I first met him, but he turned into one of our dearest friends and godfather to our three children. Miss you, Chris. xoxo

mary kennedy said...

Hi Stephanie, thanks for stopping by. I'm try to be much more aware of my surroundings now...that was a wake up call for me, too!

mary kennedy said...

Laurie, that is very touching, what an amazing, generous thing to do. Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

This is a book that I gave to all my friends. I found it years ago when I was on a solo trip. It changed my life. It is a important read for all women. One important point is how we are brought up to be victims by saying yes and being agreeable. It's true women are conditioned to be nice and agreeable to men. Once you stop that antiquated thinking you instantaneously become stronger and more capable of defending yourself.. That is victim mentality in these situations. Now I keep pepper spray in my car, purse and by my bed. I have had some very scary situations myself.

mary kennedy said...

Hi Lexie, good idea about the pepper spray, I have some too. Come to think of it, I better make sure it isn't out of date! Thanks for stopping by.

Lori Avocato said...

Wow, Mar! Good thing you have "street smarts" and good reflexes. So glad you are all right!

Mark Bouton said...

Way to go, Mary. That eerie feeling you had is akin to when you get a feeling that someone is staring at you. Researchers have studied this and found that people are usually accurate when they think someone is doing this. Personally, I've often gotten this feeling so strongly that I'd turn my head and find myself staring right back at the person who's looking at me. Your direct action to hit the elevator button, confront him directly, and yell curses at him overcame his ability to intimidate you and make you too afraid to resist. Good thinking and action, buddy. I'm glad you got away safe and sound.

mary kennedy said...

Hi Mark, thanks so much for stopping by, I missed your comment until now. I think I let my guard down because I was tired and so worried about my friend. Looking forward to reading more of your wonderful books!